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Who Said That?! The Biggest Myths About Birth Control Explored

Women's Health

Birth control makes you gain weight. Birth control causes infertility. Birth control leads to cancer.


The list goes on and on when it comes to the reputation of how birth control (allegedly) impacts the female body. And I'm definitely one of those girls who was afraid to get on the pill, thanks to its seemingly scary reputation. But after doing plenty of research, I've channeled my inner Porsha Williams of RHOA and asked, "Who said that?!" when it comes to these speculations, because most of them aren't true. Yes, every woman's body is different and takes to birth control in its own way. But in essence, birth control isn't the cause for many of the problems we face. Let's get into debunking these myths, shall we?

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It Causes Infertility

One of the reasons I was hesitant to get on birth control was because I had heard horror stories about women who had trouble getting pregnant after they stopped taking the pill or removed some form of contraceptive from their body. This especially held true for a lot of my friends who had taken it in their teenage years with the hopes of attacking their irregular periods head-on. After being on the pill for years, many of them had trouble conceiving once they were ready. It's so easy to point our fingers at the pill because it can take a while to get birth control out of our system (an average of six to nine months). Still, there's no research that backs up the idea that birth control messes with our fertility. One doctor pointed out that if you've started birth control to help treat an issue (i.e. irregular period, endometriosis, or PCOS), the issue will most likely pick up again when going off birth control. That could contribute to problems with conceiving right away rather than the birth control itself.

It Makes You Gain Weight

I don't know how many times I Googled this after I started birth control. It seemed like it made sense to think that birth control was making me gain weight (or making it more difficult to lose it). While it's been said that birth control can cause your body to retain more water (which can lead to larger breasts… hey girls hey!), a doctor shut down the speculation that birth control is a direct cause to weight gain. At the same time, side effects to birth control (like what appears to be weight gain) should go away after about three months of being on the pill. Still, for women like me that were convinced my weight gain was because of the pill (I didn't have any trouble losing weight before and once I got on the pill, it seemed like it was holding on to my body for dear life), a doctor pointed out that this could be because of how your body responds to the hormones in birth control. This has yet to be proven. So for now, the consensus is that birth control doesn't cause weight gain. I'm not fully convinced of this yet.

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You Have To Take It At The Same Time Daily Or It Doesn’t Work

So all this time I guess I could've turned off my alarm set for when to take my birth control. I literally thought I had to take it at the exact same time every day or it would be less effective. Apparently, that's not the case, at least when it comes to the regular birth control pill that's mixed with estrogen and progestin. The ones that only have progestin do have to be taken at the same time every day. To be on the safe side, while it might not be necessary to make sure you have a schedule, it's definitely helpful; especially for the low-dose pill. Although the same exact time every day isn't necessary, it's important to take your daily pill within a few hours from that time each and every day. Breaking away from a schedule or completely missing days could cause breakthrough bleeding or a loss in effectiveness, and ain't nobody got time for that.

It Leads To Breast Cancer

It's easy to see why this myth has been going strong for years. The connection between oral birth control and breast cancer has increased over the years. Still, it's in the myth category because the connection is very low. The truth behind it basically says that the women who are most likely to get on the pill have lower cancer rates. It doesn't necessarily prevent cancer, but you don't have to think that you're welcoming any risk of cancer by taking the pill to put a hold (temporarily or permanently) on getting pregnant. Interestingly enough, birth control pills also have the ability to lower the risk of colon cancer, uterine cancer, and even ovarian cancer. And for those ladies who don't want to take the pill because breast cancer runs in the family, one doctor said that she suggests women in this position to take oral contraceptives considering it lowers the chances of being diagnosed with certain cancers, like ovarian.

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You Have To Stop It At Some Point

Listen, there is no deadline for when you can take birth control. Even though each of us has the right to stop taking it whenever we want (I'm about two weeks out of the game), it's not dangerous at all to stay on the pill for as long as you want. Keep in mind that while it can take a few months for your body to adjust to post-birth control life, you can also get pregnant right away. So it's not the best idea to stop because of fear of being on it too long. Again, no female body is the same. If you do feel like you're experiencing negative side effects associated with your birth control, then it's always best to have a chat with your doctor.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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